Dariush Lolaiy's Auckland

I’m a chef and cookbook author, hunter and co-owner at Cazador Restaurant and Delicatessen. My restaurant specialises in serving New Zealand game meats and fresh, local produce with an emphasis on ethically sourced ingredients and minimal waste. I love my dog, and hanging out with my cool wife and our two daughters. The little spare time I have is carefully shared between dining out and enjoying Auckland’s many open spaces.

Kitchen magic at Cocoro

56a Brown Street, Ponsonby, Auckland

This is my favourite special occasion restaurant. The service is considered and warm, the sake selection is the best in town and Makoto is nothing short of a magician in the kitchen.

The entrance to Cocoro.

Best noodles on Dominion Road

105 Dominion Road, Mount Eden, Auckland

Dominion Road for Auckland’s best noodle shops and diverse Asian eateries. My favourite is Shaolin Kung Fu Noodles, a seat upstairs with a bunch of mates, and generous bowls of hand cut noodles and flatbread pancakes.

Noodles in a bowl.

Quiet cocktails at Satya

271 Karangahape Road, Auckland Central

Simple, homely Southern Indian food started by Swamy and Padmaja Akuthota. Pick a Satya, any Satya (GG X Flamingo, Chai Lounge…). The cocktails, the beers, the whisky. I like a quiet, solo drink after work and I’m always made to feel welcome here.

The inside of the Satya Chai Lounge.

Walk Kauri Point Domain

Kauri Point Domain, Auckland

It’s a quiet spot just a short trip along the upper harbour coast in Birkenhead. An easy path leads through a coastal bush track to a cliff lined sandy beach. There’s always plenty of mud and filth for my dog, it’s her favourite spot in town.

The beach at Kauri Point Domain.

French classics from Apero

280 Karangahape Road, Auckland Central

Apero is run by Leslie, from Toulouse, who uses local produce to prepare her family’s traditional French food the way it has been for generations. Sunday afternoon, a few wines, a relaxed vibe and some of the best eats in town. French classics, Leslie's is uncomplicated, perfectly executed, delicious food.

Food on a plate at Apero.

Explore the ever-changing downtown

Commercial Bay, Auckland Central

Downtown Auckland just gets more and more exciting. The city seems to be waking up lately, with old favourites like Crane Brothers and Unity Books on High Street just a short walk from the flash new scene at Commercial Bay. I love discovering new spots like Little Culprit, which has to be the best stop for a bite and a serious drink, and Gochu, a modern Korean restaurant, as well as the Kokako coffee bar which is both beautifully designed and delivers an excellent coffee experience. It’s kind of like taking a day trip to Japan.

People walking around Commercial Bay.

Tastings at Kingsland Cellar Door

357 New North Road, Kingsland, Auckland

This Garage Project Taproom in Kingsland is like a re-imagined bottle shop. It has 12 beers and two wild wines on rotating taps for refills, plus stacks of craft beer for purchase. It’s not a pub - you can’t get a pint here, but you can do a tasting or grab a flight and a snack.

A man pouring beer.

Try some of the city's best coffee

2/8 Osborne Street, Newmarket, Auckland

At the end of a laneway in Newmarket is one of the best coffee spots in Auckland, The Candy Shop. I’m a fan of their filter brew, and I always take a bag of beans for home. It’s a short walk to the Auckland Domain, and a handy stroll from Maison Vauron where I can easily lose myself among the rows and rows of French wines, liqueurs and the wall of cheese.

A barista making coffee at The Candy Shop.

Coastal retreat to Martins Bay

Martins Bay, Mahurangi East, Auckland

One of my favourite beaches is just 50 minutes north of Auckland. Martin’s Bay is a small, sandy bay with rock pools at each end. It’s kid friendly for summer swims and dog friendly in the winter. We make a day of it and stop along Ridge Road at the Mahurangi Oyster farm honesty box, and finish up at the Smoko Room at the Sawmill Brewery in Matakana.

Martins Bay in Auckland.

Dress up in Crane Brothers

2/4 High Street, Auckland Central

My job is pretty hands on. I’m butchering, hot smoking and cooking on coals, so my clothes get a hard ride. It’s not often I have the opportunity to dress well, but when I do, nothing beats the experience of being fitted by the experts at Crane Brothers on High Street. They are famous for their made-to-measure but also have a great selection of ready to wear. You’ll come out ready for a whisky in the leather seats at Little Culprit.

A close up of Crane Brothers suits.